It's not uncommon for a brand to tinker with their mascot. In fact, every few years companies tend to roll out an updated mascot with new, fresh colors. In the case of Chuck E. Cheese, they took their old rat/mouse/whatever and made him lose weight to give the illusion that they're a healthier establishment.
The case of Cheetos and Chester Cheetah is a bit more interesting as the mascot has undergone a series of changes since his debut back in 1983.
Let's start at the beginning. Cheetos originally had a mascot simply referred to as the Cheetos Mouse. This mouse was pretty similar to Chester Cheetah, using familiar lines with an "I'm too cool for school" attitude.
Check out this Cheetos Mouse commercial from 1971.
So when did Chester take over as the official mascot? The answer is a bit foggy. Even with extensive research, the best answer we could find was that he started appearing in ads in 1983 and then he gradually became the company's official mascot sometime later.
Chester even used the same slogan as the Cheetos Mouse, "The cheese that goes crunch," as seen in this commercial from 1989. As you can see, though he was supposed to be a laid back, suave character, the animation and the voice used for Chester just doesn't seem to fit.
Chester continued to grow in popularity, even inspiring a video game for the Super Nintendo in 1992. The game, Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool, was a strange attempt at product placement in video games. Amazingly, the game received a sequel for the SNES and Sega Genesis – Chester Cheetah: Wild Wild Quest.
In 1996, Chester took on a new slogan – Dangerously Cheesy. This was the main slogan for numerous years, as seen in a commercial where Chester's stunt double is Daffy Duck.
Chester maintained this animated form for quite some time, usually starring in commercials during afternoon programming where he would get in to all sorts of crazy adventures while either enjoying or trying to obtain Cheetos. Cartoon violence was the main plot point in almost every Cheetos advertisement.
Chester also took on a CGI form in some commercials as opposed to his usual animated form, as seen in this series of commercials which depicted Chester going undercover.
Everything changed in the mid to late 2000's. Cheetos wanted their marketing to appeal to an older demographic. This brought on several changes. Chester took on a new form, one that's apparently a puppet as opposed to animation or CGI. He also developed a Mid-Atlantic accent which fits his new devious demeanor and somewhat malicious motives.
This is one example of the Chester that debuted around 2007. Clearly, his I.Q. has risen as evidenced by the fact he's now playing chess. The company also seemed confused as to whether Chester should be a real character or just a figment of their consumers' imagination. He even occasionally referred to himself as Papa Chester, which we admit sounds a bit creepy.
Chester maintained his accent and somewhat diabolical motives in an ad that aired during the 2009 Super Bowl.
Solve all of your problems with Cheetos. Chester also wants a kiss from a bird. We're not sure why, but there it is.
Finally, Cheetos decided to lighten up Chester a bit. As opposed to him encouraging people to commit acts of revenge with a cheesy snack, they gave him some comical situations including a memorable spot with a mattress fort, as seen in this ad from 2011.
They also introduced a new slogan, "Take a Cheetos break."
There's also a spot where Chester enjoys a construction party with a rather short guest list.
We thoroughly enjoy this version of Chester the best. He's not mean, but he's a bit cynical. The accent threw us off at first but we've since come around and now thoroughly enjoy it. He's smart, intelligent and has some terrific comedic timing.
It's been fascinating watching Chester transform from a smooth character to a crazed maniac all the way back to a brilliant mind with a sharp accent. We hope Cheetos sticks with the current form of Chester for years to come.